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Warm Front leaves many households cold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 August 2009 at 2:29 pm

The Warm Front scheme may be failing the poorest and most vulnerable households according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee published last month.

Warm Front is meant to  improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty through installing heating and insulation in eligible households. A lack of clarity over which of these is the primary aim has meant that the scheme isn't achieving best value for money from the funding according to the report.

It found that the scheme's eligibility criteria exclude nearly two thirds of fuel-poor households, and £34m was paid to households whose homes were already energy efficient.

In addition, the number of applicants withdrawing from the scheme due to the cost of topping up the grant rose from less than one in 10 in 2005/6 to one in four in 2007/8. This was because the maximum grant under the scheme did not change between July 2005 and April 2009, while labour costs rose significantly. In all, 6,000 households withdrew, and 1,400 opted for cheaper measures.

Rural households also got a raw deal from the scheme. Data indicates that 28% of those in fuel poverty live in rural areas, but only 15% of households helped were from such areas. 

Photo by Raphael Goetter

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